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Play ISTY For Me

In my experience, the more raw technical knowledge an engineer acquires, the more the tendency for him/her to drift unconsciously into ego-centricity and arrogance. The more specialized the knowledge, the more the arrogance. Having personally overcome this malady to at least some extent, I’m facing a conundrum with a brilliant younger colleague. The conundrum is how to teach the youngster to internalize a sense of humility while trying to remain somewhat humble myself.

Like many academically smart kids with a few years of programming experience under his belt, this kid knows a lot of details about a few topics in software engineering (if it can be called engineering) along with a few details about a bunch of others – especially more abstract subjects like large scale design and architecture. On the topics he has little knowledge of (but just enough to be dangerous), he makes sweeping generalizations that I know aren’t correct based on my long but undistinguished career. However, when I try to gently poke holes in his sweeping generalizations and assertions, he digs in. I then lose my patience and tend to get sucked into the awful, I’m-Smarter-Than-You (ISTY) game. The irony of the situation is that my young friend doesn’t lose patience and he stays “cooler” than I do while  playing ISTY. D’oh! Because of this ability to remain cool, ignorant, and overconfident, he no doubt has the makings of a future bozo-type manager. Alas, I hope he doesn’t choose that path because he is truly a remarkable technical contributor who creates value.

Oh well, life would be boring without challenges (<- that’s bozo-management-speak for “problems”) to overcome.

Categories: miscellaneous Tags: , , ,
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  1. November 9, 2011 at 1:00 am

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